Resident experience of abuse and harassment in emergency medicine: Ten years later

Author Department

Emergency Medicine

Document Type

Article, Peer-reviewed

Publication Date



BACKGROUND: In 1995, a Society for Academic Emergency Medicine in-service survey reported high rates of verbal and physical abuse experienced by Emergency Medicine (EM) residents. We sought to determine the prevalence of abuse and harassment 10 years later to bring attention to these issues and determine if there has been a change in the prevalence of abuse over this time period. OBJECTIVES: To determine the prevalence of abuse and harassment in a sample of EM residencies. METHODS: We conducted a cross-section survey of EM residents from 10 residencies. EM residents were asked about their experience with verbal abuse, verbal threats, physical threats, physical attacks, sexual harassment, and racial harassment; and by whom. The primary outcome of the study was the prevalence of abuse and harassment as reported by EM residents. RESULTS: There were 196 of 380 residents (52%) who completed the survey. The prevalence of any type of abuse experienced was 91%; 86% of residents experienced verbal abuse, 65% verbal threats, 50% physical threats, 26% physical attacks, 23% sexual harassment, and 26% racial harassment. Women were more likely than men to encounter sexual harassment (37% [38/102] vs. 8% [7/92]; p < 0.001). Racial harassment was not limited to minorities (23% [16/60] for Caucasians vs. 26% [29/126] for non-Caucasians; p = 0.59). Senior residents were more likely to have encountered verbal and physical abuse. Only 12% of residents formally reported the abuse they experienced. CONCLUSION: Abuse and harassment during EM residency continues to be commonplace and is underreported. Copyright (c) 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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